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Australia control over continental shelf expanded by UN ruling

[JURIST] Australia has acquired exploration and drilling rights to an additional 2.5 million square kilometers of ocean shelf after a UN commission ruled that Australia's continental shelf extends farther than previously defined, the Australian government said Monday. The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) [official website] is the body charged with administering the 1994 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [UN materials], under which countries have 10 years after their ratifications of that treaty to make extended continental shelf claims; Australia made its submission [materials] in 2004. The CLCS ruling does not give Australia rights to control shipping or whaling activities that take place in the ocean above the continental shelf. Australia's ABC News has more.

Several countries, including the UK and Chile, have petitioned the CLCS [JURIST report] in recent years to stake claims to portions of Antarctica ahead of claim deadlines. It is unclear, however, how the 1994 treaty interacts with the 1959 Antarctic Treaty [text; ATS materials], which specifically prohibits its signatories from asserting new land claims in Antarctica. The Antarctica Treaty gives countries with valid Antarctic claims the right to search for oil and natural gas beginning in 2048.

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